Shudu Gram/Instagram
Michelle Ward Trainor
March 02, 2018 09:52 AM

A new supermodel is taking social media by storm — but she’s not exactly real.

Shudu Gram is being hailed an Instagram phenomenon for her striking beauty as much as for her computer DNA.

Created by British photographer Cameron-James Wilson, “the world’s first digital supermodel” has racked up more than 40,000 followers thanks to her incredibly lifelike images, including one of her modeling Rihanna‘s Fenty Beauty‘s Saw-C lipstick shade, a photo that was then reposted by the brand.

At first, Shudu’s true identity was kept under wraps, sparking an internet debate over her authenticity.

Explaining his decision to keep Shudu’s identity a secret, Wilson says it was to help teach himself how to create in 3D. “CG and 3D artists aim for absolute realism,” he says. “In order to make sure I was hitting that mark it was important that I was able to make her convincing as possible. If she was convincing people, I was on the right track. To perpetuate that she was real was part of my learning process.” But once he mastered his art, he came clean.

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So where did Shudu’s look come from? “I just created the most beautiful woman I could,” says Wilson, 28. “She was heavily influenced by models that I really admired growing up. I’ve always adored Alek Wek, Grace Jones – these powerful, beautiful women who kind of represented beauty that hasn’t really been at the forefront for a long time. So when I had the opportunity to create her, it was the perfect situation to create somebody who inspires me and would continue to inspire me for a long time.”

Wilson, who has worked as a photographer for ten years shooting Gigi Hadid, Devon Windsor and other top models, describes Shudu as between 5’11” and 6’2″ depending on the style of the image and whether he wants to go with something “more realistic, or more inspired by illustration.”

He also “wanted to make sure she had a long limbs, a long neck” and balanced proportions.

“With my photography, the models I’ve used time and time again are more athletic and lean as opposed to just straight up and down and very, very thin,” he explains. “My inspiration comes from comic books and graphic novels, women in those are usually very athletic, but they still have curves. To give that sense of power to an image, you have to have a strong body and that’s kind of where that inspiration comes from.”

 

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